A.M. Did 6 with Ariel, then 2 with Benjamin, and 1 with Jacob and Julia. Benjamin added 2 more with Joseph. I ended up with 9 miles.
Yesterday I found an answer to a question that I have been trying to answer for years. We have these odd pieces in my running:
- Best 100 m 13.9
- Best 800 2:12
- Best 5 K 15:37
- VO2 Max 75.9
- Funny looking form, problems with stability on the right side
- Constant feeling of running against myself, being stuck in the mud
Now many runners would be happy with a 15:37 5 K and a 2:23 marathon even in St. George. But I was not. Something deep inside kept telling me I was not getting what I was worth in some way with those results. I've been very disciplined in training and in recovery. I've learned the best training principles and used them. Fast Running Blog became a witness to the power of those principles as time and again I've watched runners apply them and move to the level they thought was out of their league. I wanted to know why I had those struggles.
I have visited a number of specialists who provided various explanations and attempted various cures non of which have been effective. The challenge with such a problem, I think, is that when you tell most specialists you do not have any pain, their brain shuts down. How about that: "Doctor, with VO2 Max of 75 I am barely breaking 16:00 in a 5 K on a good day, it should be low 14. Can you tell me what's wrong?"
One day a few months ago as I sat in the temple I prayed to have the answer, and it was time for it come, I suppose, as I met Sergio in the locker room. It turned out that Sergio was a physical therapist with an interest in neurology and running. I decided to see if he had anything to offer on this matter. Working with him eventually led to what I believe is the resolution of the mystery. He gave me a referral for an spinal X-ray to test for spina bifida occulta. Two images were taken, anterior view and lateral view.
His conclusion after looking at the X-rays was that I have spina bifida occulta in L-4. In plain terms, and you actually can see it quite well in the lateral view, a chunk of L-4 on the right side is missing, which creates stability problems. It is actually quite remarkable that with all of that I was able to run mostly injury free - never skipped more than 3 days in a row for any reason ever, no more than 1 day in the last 14 years. Sergio said with this problem you live more or less OK until you are 30, then if you get fat you can start developing clinical symptoms like numbness, back pain, etc.
This condition is something you are born and there is no cure for it. It affects about 10-20% of the population. Unlike the spina bifida manifesta, which we hear about more often, this condition is mostly asymptomatic except that you are awkward, and might be going to the bathroom more frequently than a normal person. There is no effective cure for it. Surgery helps sometimes, but in the case like mine it will most definitely make it worse. It may be possible to mitigate its effects by strengthening the hip extensors and the abdominal muscles to provide extra support.
I told Benjamin I had good news for him. My L-4 is missing a chunk, I've run 2:23 marathon with my condition which he most likely does not have, and he is my son. While I do not have plans to give up, and through faith and hard work will try to find a way to work through or around this problem, I told him that even if I fail, he will have a chance to find out how much this condition slowed me down. So will Joseph, Jacob, William, Stephen, and whoever else we are going to have.
P.M. 0.3 with William.